by Rob van Alstyne
Erin Moran is a Jersey Shore girl with a golden voice and a broken heart. When she steps behind the mic as A Girl Called Eddy she belts out emotional open-wound tales of regret, betrayal … and more regret. Is Moran’s own worldview and personality as dark and melancholy as her songs would suggest? “I think the songs are a pretty accurate reflection of me—I’m a depressing bitch,” states Moran laughingly as I catch her cell phone in the midst of her first U.S. tour. “I think it’s a pretty honest expression of who I am, that’s not to say that I don’t have perkier songs in me, but for where I was in my life—and where I am still sometimes today—I do think the songs are an accurate description of myself.”
Download an mp3 of A Girl Called Eddy’s song Golden.
wisely bathes her tear jerking autobiographical lyrics in warm and comforting
arrangements to soften their blow. Recorded with ex-Pulp guitarist Richard Hawley
in the production chair and handling instrumentalist-of-all-trades duties (including
such rarely heard oddities as the Hawaiian lap steel and Enchanted Lyre) the
album is a shadowy tucked-under-the-covers-while-sipping-brandy-in-the-dark
sort of listen. The heartache is there alright, but it’s cushioned by
sumptuous string sections, rich baritone guitars and gorgeous Fender Rhodes
“I definitely struggled for quite awhile trying to find the right producer
to work with,” admits Moran, “and then when I heard [Richard Hawley’s]
album I thought, ‘wow if there’s anybody who can help me get the
sound I want it’s him.’ And that was before I knew that he had a
set group of musicians who had been working together for something like 10 years.
Recently I’ve gone back to some of the demos and heard the songs again
and can hear how Richard sort of took the songs from polaroids to cinemascope.
It actually wasn’t that laborious of a process. Taking it from basically
out of my bedroom and computer and dropping it into the hands of really talented
musicians was pretty effortless.”
Hawley and his mates helped Moran shape A Girl Called Eddy’s mix
of archetypal torch ballads, classic down tempo R&B and the occasional burst
of prickly rockitude flawlessly. Even with all the bells and whistles at work
though, it’s Moran’s lived-in, slightly smokey croon (imagine Aimee
Mann with a far superior vocal range) that commands center stage.
years of working day jobs and living my life were really important to what ended
up being the album,” offers the thirtysomething Moran of her debut album’s
well-worn feel. “I wouldn’t have had anything to write about otherwise.
I think it’s the old cliché of ‘things happen when they’re
supposed to happen.’ Because 10 years ago I wouldn’t have had half
of those things to say in me—it was pretty necessary.”
Many have already been quick to attribute Moran’s traditional leaning
tunes to specific, inevitably female, influences (Karen Carpenter, Dusty Springfield).
Moran herself is highly aware of the dangers in working within the vein of traditional
female singer/songwriter fare. “I think there’s an internal sensor
that’s very difficult to shut off that always has you thinking, ‘Is
this a bit too much? Am I ripping someone off?’ I’ll scrap a chord
if I think I might be taking it from somewhere else. Yet when I hear some of
the songs now I realize that I let a lot of stuff go and I can hear some of
the influences directly. I think it’s good to be hard on yourself in that
sense, but you do have to let it go because you can paralyze yourself with that
as well once you start worrying about sounding like somebody else.”
Granting even half an ear to A Girl Called Eddy reveals that Moran needn’t
lose any sleep worrying about being pegged an imitator —her lyricism and
voice are too singular. Surveying the wreckage of her emotionally turbulent
past, Moran never flinches even while tackling the most difficult of subject
matters head on—including the death of her mother (“Kathleen”)
and a friend’s discovery of the teenage daughter he never knew he had
(“Girls Can Really Tear You Up Inside”).
“The process of writing the songs is actually quite uplifting,”
claims Moran of her diary-entry-level-invasive song topics. “When I’m
able to get those depressing or sad feelings out there, it makes me feel a whole
lot better. I think wallowing can be a happy experience, it’s good to
reflect—I question people who don’t. What’s that phrase ...
‘an unexamined life isn’t worth living?’ It’s true,
how else are you going to get a grasp on who you are?”
Moran’s struggle for a stable self as presented on A Girl Called Eddy
is simply mesmerizing. Whether coyly cooing or brazenly belting out in full
force, her grip on the listener’s heartstrings is unshakeable. Moran’s
debut clearly marks the arrival of a major new talent in the sad songbird aviary,
and although she may have taken awhile to find her own footing as a songwriter,
Moran’s not planning on going anywhere now that she’s finally here.
“I hope not,” she quickly responds when I ask whether she plans
on the road to her second record being as long as her debut. “I’d
like to get on the next record really quickly. I like where I’m at right
A Girl Called Eddy performs on Thu. Mar. 3 at the 7th St. Entry with
Joanna James and Courtney Yasmineh. 8 p.m. 21+. $7. 701 First Ave. N., Mpls.
Find out more about A Girl Called Eddy on her official website
Download an mp3 of A Girl Called Eddy’s song Golden.